Sunday, 23 January 2011


I've always loved our language. I love the way it has picked up bits here and there along the way like a jackdaw; the end result being a hotch-potch of words and phrases which contain a great deal of history. My mission is to examine some of these components and breathe life into them to selfishly satisfy my own curiosity and perhaps yours. Let us begin.

I would frequently hear things which my parents, or grandparents said and chuckle inwardly as I mentally locked them up in a brain cell for future use. I was born in the Midlands so there will be a strong 'Brummie' flavour to my choices, none more so than the first example.

It was often the case that my Mum would throw back the curtains in the morning and then remark with an air of impending doom "It looks black over Bill's mother's this morning". The meaning is clear - bad weather is on the horizon and most sources agree that it is a Midlands saying.

The origins are uncertain but some suggest that 'Bill' refers to William Shakespeare whose mother, Mary Arden, lived in Stratford. She was lucky to have lived when she did because her house is full of tourists now.

If this is true, it means that the black clouds were over Stratford, to the south of Birmingham. Thus, if you were looking in that direction from the 'Black Country' which is the West Midlands, you would miss the bad weather since the prevailing South West winds would carry them away from you. However if you were South Midlands as we were, you better dress for rain.

1 comment:

  1. I love to listen to Brits' talking, love the accents... and some of your phrases and expressions. This is an interesting explanation of a phrase I had never heard before!